HPD, HDC, Blue Sea Development, And Bronx Borough President Diaz Cut Ribbon At Green, State-Of-The-Art Affordable Homes In South Bronx

Bronx, NY – October 27, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Les Bluestone and Avery Seavey of Blue Sea Development Co. for a ribbon cutting ceremony today in the South Bronx to unveil the newly completed Eltona. The development is a five-story, 71,640-square-foot building with 63 rental apartments for families whose incomes are below 60 percent of the area median income ($46,080 for a family of four). This smoke-free, state-of-the-art development incorporates innovative and eco-friendly components such as rooftop energy generating wind turbines. Residents of the Eltona will be participating in research conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine to track the health of families suffering from asthma who live in a “green building.” Also attending the ribbon cutting today were Eltona residents and representatives of New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA), Wildcat Service Corporation and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

To date, under Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) to provide affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers, HPD and HDC have financed the development or preservation of more than 94,000 units of affordable housing in the five boroughs. Nearly 31,000 units have been financed in the Bronx, with more than 5,500 represented in Community District 1 where the Eltona is located. The creation of affordable housing through the NHMP is a vital component of the City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to create jobs in communities through the City for New Yorkers today, implement a vision for long-term economic growth and build affordable, attractive neighborhoods throughout the City.

 “The Eltona exemplifies HPD’s neighborhood approach to investing in affordable housing,” said HPD Commissioner Cestero. “By applying a local lens to this project we are able to put hardworking families into fantastic new, eco-friendly homes, while simultaneously applying science to quantify how healthier, greener buildings can affect the overall well being of a neighborhood and its residents. From wind turbines to career and life counseling, there is a lot going on at the Eltona, and it is the best of what affordable housing can and should be. I thank Borough President Diaz for his leadership and all of our partners for their commitment to this development and to the people of the South Bronx.”

“For too long the Bronx has shouldered the burden of its burning past, despite the booming level of development now taking place,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “The opening of the Eltona, developed by Bluesea, is significant for its green design features, which earned it LEED Platinum certification.  The Bronx is now leading the State of New York with 86% of all LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes certified units.  We are proud to be leading the State in the green building field as well as achieving these high standards of sustainability in the context of building affordable housing.”

Located between East 156th and 157th Streets and between Melrose and Elton Avenues, The Eltona is one of the finishing touches in the City of New York’s Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Plan. Melrose Commons is an urban renewal area of approximately 46 contiguous acres located in the center of the South Bronx and shared by Community Districts 1 and 3. The plan created 66 sites with land designated for housing development, as well as commercial and community facility use and open space. It is expected that as many as 3,700 new residential units and approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial space will be built. Since new construction began in 2000, 1,556 new residential units have been completed, 1,166 units in 12 multifamily buildings and 390 units in six small homes developments. An additional 1,271 units are currently under construction in 5 multifamily projects. 

The Eltona offers a mix of one, two, and three bedrooms, with resident storage and laundry rooms on each floor, a community room on the ground level and on-site surface parking for 17 cars. The building also contains 6,800-square-feet of landscaped recreation space for residents, and a community garden adjacent to the building has been preserved.

Designed with an eye towards green technology and practices, the Eltona is the first LEED Platinum building in New York State and incorporates many innovative components with the health and well-being of the residents as a critical factor. It is the City’s first residential building with wind turbine generators (ten 1-killowat turbines) mounted on the parapet to generate electricity for the building, and meets NYSERDA’s requirements for ENERGY STAR multifamily buildings and will include ENERGY STAR appliance lighting fixtures, high efficiency boilers and energy efficient fiberglass windows. Low flow fixtures will reduce water usage, and all fixtures will be nontoxic and sustainable. Additionally, all paints, sealants, and adhesives are low VOC, as are carpet tiles which are also recyclable, and low VOC wall coverings which are made from recycled material.

“This development is unique,” said HDC President Marc Jahr. “From the wind turbines that line its roof, to the job services and counseling offered its residents, The Eltona serves the needs of the individual as well as the community. We are particularly excited to have the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine onsite to monitor and record data on the response of asthmatics to this carefully planned environment. I am hopeful that the green and health-conscious features of this affordable housing will be proven, once and for all, to be truly beneficial for the residents.”

DHCR Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen said “The Eltona, a LEED Silver certified building, sets a new standard for energy-efficient affordable housing in New York State.  The development team’s comprehensive approach, utilizing both brownfield clean-up and wind turbines, as well as their participation in scholastic studies on people with asthma living in a green building addresses in a comprehensive way the health, economic and environmental benefits affordable housing like Eltona can bring to communities across the state.”

“We at Blue Sea Development are especially pleased to have produced a building that achieves high levels of energy efficiency and sustainability, but equally important, makes a real effort to provide for our tenants’ well being through a healthy indoor environment and on site career counseling services,” said Blue Sea Development Principal Les Bluestone. “None of this could have been possible without the strong support of our partners the City, State, and people of the Melrose community.”

This section of the South Bronx, which is part of the “Harlem-South Bronx Asthma Corridor,” has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma. Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine will be conducting a study, which has already started with future tenants; to investigate and quantify the effect of living in a green building may have on respiratory health of asthma sufferers. To this end, indoor air quality at the Eltona is essential for the success of the building and the Mount Sinai study. The building which is 100 percent non-smoking, will have a separate air ventilation system in each apartment in stead of a central air duct system, and all public area make up will be served by HEPA filtered systems.

“We hope to document that living in a platinum certified green home, where all materials, design and construction are inherently aimed at decreasing environmental triggers of asthma, will improve the respiratory health and the quality of life for those families with asthma,” said Elizabeth Garland, MD, MS, Associate Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“By showing that energy-efficient measures can be incorporated into every facet of a building, the Eltona Apartments represent an important step towards realizing Governor Paterson’s ambitious energy agenda that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., NYSERDA President and CEO.  “I am proud that NYSERDA is supporting a project that will allow the residents of the Eltona to reap the benefits of living in a LEED Platinum building with energy-saving features and lay the groundwork for greater efficiencies in the future.”

Blue Sea Development has also partnered with the New York City based workforce development professionals at Wildcat Service Corporation to provide an on site employment, education, health and other counseling services free of charge for the residents of the Eltona. Since 1972, it has been the goal of Wildcat to provide comprehensive creative workforce development services to undereducated, unemployed, underemployed, low income residents of New York City to assure their self-sufficiency.

“Wildcat Service Corporation is pleased to pilot this unique program with Blue Sea Development that unites career services with affordable housing for the new residents of The Eltona. We will assist the residents with career advisement and planning with an onsite Career Coach. We will utilize one on one coaching as well as workshops, training grants to learn new skills that enhance current employment and prepare for the next career growth opportunity, along with financial and money management counseling. Wildcat Service Corporation is looking forward to creating successful career paths for the residents of The Eltona with the strong partnership we have built with Blue Sea Development,” said Shannon Cantu, Senior Director, Wildcat Services Corporation.

Blue Sea Development Company, LLC is developing the project and its affiliate, Blue Sea Construction Co., LLC is erecting the building with wall panels precast in local factories. Danois Architects is the architect. The $16.5 million dollar project was financed in part through $8.4 million in tax-exempt bonds, which were backed by a letter of credit from the Bank of New York, and $3.4 million in subsidy both from HDC. DHCR awarded a $7 million tax credit allocation, which is being syndicated by the Royal Bank of Canada. DHCR also provided another $2.4 million through the Homes for Working Families program.

The Eltona will be operated and managed by Blue Sea Development during a 15 year tax-credit compliance period, after which a buy-out plan will be offered to residents under which they can acquire the building and their units as a low income cooperative. Blue Sea also developed the first affordable LEED homes in the Bronx, at the nearby Morrisania Homes. 



New York City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan

The Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is a comprehensive strategy to bring New York City through the current economic downturn as fast as possible. It focuses on three major areas: creating jobs for New Yorkers today, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy, and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. Taken together, the initiatives that the City has launched to achieve these goals will generate thousands of jobs and put New York City on a path to economic recovery and growth.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)

HPD’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. It is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, HPD also actively promotes the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.

Housing Development Corporation (HDC)

The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) provides a variety of financing programs for the creation and preservation of multi-family housing that meets the wide range of affordable housing needs of the City’s economically diverse population. It is the nation’s number one issuer the nation’s top issuer of affordable housing bonds. In 2008, the Corporation issued more than $1.3 billion worth of bonds in the calendar year, including approximately $500 million in tax-exempt housing revenue bonds, enabling HDC to finance the construction and/or preservation of 7,371 apartments. HDC is implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers. The New Housing Marketplace Plan is the largest municipal affordable housing effort in the nation’s history.  For more information visit www.nychdc.com

Blue Sea Development Company

Committed to the mission of green and sustainable communities and homes, the Blue Sea Development Company partners have developed thousands of units of affordable housing over the past 30 years and built the first affordable Energy Star (2002) and LEED Silver (2007) affordable housing developments in New York State. Other current green developments include two new affordable cooperative buildings and the renovation of an occupied 15-story 200-unit low income senior housing building.

Wildcat Services Corporation

Wildcat Service Corporation has integrated workforce and economic development objectives since 1972. Originally a spin-off of the Vera Institute of Justice, Wildcat was the first organization in the United States to design and implement a transitional work program for unemployed persons with criminal convictions. They have continued to work with ex-offenders throughout our history, and have added programs to address the needs of many additional populations throughout the City. Their is mission is to provide comprehensive creative workforce development services to undereducated, unemployed, underemployed, low income residents of New York City to assure their self-sufficiency.

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